The most interesting league football game this week is set for Saturday morning at Arroyo Grande High School.
The Eagles will host Nipomo in a Mountain League contest.
Neither team is leading in the league standings, but an Arroyo Grande win could set up a winner-take-all game next week as the Eagles play league-leading Paso Robles at home then.
Paso Robles is 3-0 in league and plays host to Righetti this week. Though the Bearcats are unbeaten in league, they haven't been exactly dominant. They started league with a 26-21 win over St. Joseph and followed it up with a 19-12 win over Nipomo. The Bearcats then rallied from a 6-0 halftime deficit to beat winless Pioneer Valley 15-6 last week.
That's three league wins by a combined 21 points.
St. Joseph is also 2-1 in league and closes out the regular season with games against Pioneer Valley and Righetti. So, technically, the Knights are still very much alive in the league title chase, though they'll need lots of help to win an outright league title and would need to win its final two games and Paso Robles lose once to get a share of a league title.
If Righetti upsets Paso Robles Friday night, that would make the league title chase even more wide open.
Let's take a look at some of these matchups.
No. 7 Arroyo Grande (5-3, 2-1 Mountain) vs. Nipomo (6-2, 1-2)
This is a matchup of contrasting styles. Nipomo's offense isn't bad, it's just methodical and not really explosive. The Titans' defense is strong.
Arroyo Grande's offense is good and it's explosive. The Eagle defense has not been great. Arroyo Grande allowed 35 points to Righetti and won last week after falling behind 28-10 in the first half.
I think Arroyo Grande will put points on the board Saturday and the Titans will have trouble keeping up. If Nipomo does find a way to keep this game low scoring, the Titans can pull this one out.
That's the key to this game: Nipomo's defense. Do the Titans have enough size, speed and depth to slow the Eagles down? I'm not sure. Nipomo was off last week due to COVID-19 protocols and the game will be played Saturday to give Nipomo time to get cleared for the game. I'm assuming they'll be at full strength.
I'm going to have to go with the Eagles in this one either way.
The Pick: Arroyo Grande 33, Nipomo 18.
No. 5 Paso Robles (5-2, 3-0 Mountain) vs. Righetti (1-6, 1-2)
Yes, Paso Robles is unbeaten in Mountain League play, but again, those three wins haven't been exactly convincing.
Righetti's record is bad, but the Warriors have been competitive against some really tough teams. But they lost QB Braden Claborn last week and the offense struggled greatly without him. If the Warriors were at full strength, I may pick them in this one.
Righetti has some big-time players in Elias Martinez, Ryan Boivin and Cooper Bagby, but they need some play-makers to step up. The offensive line is solid, Ryan Lopez has played well on defense and Elijah Swanson, Bradley Spence and Brian Monighetti have picked up their play, but is someone else going to step up and help Righetti score a big league upset?
The Pick: Paso Robles 24, Righetti 12.
No. 4 St. Joseph (4-4, 2-1 Mountain League) at Pioneer Valley (0-6, 0-4)
This has a big storyline: It's Dustin Davis, the head coach at PVHS, taking on his old school. Davis was pretty successful during his five-year run at St. Joseph, winning a league title and making multiple CIF quarterfinal appearances.
His PVHS team is now a gritty squad that has hung tough with just about everyone. The Panthers led Paso 6-0 at halftime last week and had a similar halftime lead over Arroyo Grande before that. They also have three one-score losses They've only allowed 108 points in six games, that's an average of 18 points a game. But PVHS has only scored 38 points this season, or about six points a game.
Pioneer Valley is going to be good, eventually. Not sure they can slow down St. Joseph all night.
The Pick: St. Joseph 29, Pioneer Valley 7.
No. 9 Lompoc (3-5, 0-3 Channel) vs. Oxnard (3-5, 1-2)
For me, this is a big game. I think Lompoc still has an outside shot at the playoffs if the Braves can get to .500 by winning their final two games of the year.
It's also the Braves' chance to end this unthinkable five-game losing streak. But Oxnard is probably a slight favorite, even playing on the road.
It's hard to gauge Lompoc with how short-handed they've been for large parts of the season. If they're at full strength, they wouldn't be on this five-game skid. I'd put my money on Andrew Jones' team winning these last two games and finishing the year at .500. Will that give them a playoff spot? I have no idea.
The Pick: Lompoc 24, Oxnard 21.
No. 6 Santa Ynez (6-2, 2-1 Pacific View) at Channel Islands (2-6, 1-2)
Santa Ynez, the lone Northern SB County team to live up to expectations. Thank you, Pirates!
They shouldn't have much trouble against these Raiders, who have struggled all year. Now somebody needs to beat Buena so Santa Ynez could have a shot at a league title.
The Pick: Santa Ynez 39, Channel Islands 12.
Morro Bay (3-5, 1-2 Ocean) vs. Santa Maria (2-6, 0-3)
This is Santa Maria's best shot at winning another game this season. Morro Bay has been down the last few years, but they've played some decent football this fall. The Pirates have scored 204 points in eight games and allowed 202. The Saints have scored 140 points in eight games. Santa Maria's defense is decent (208 points allowed), but the Saints' quarterbacks have turned the ball over way too much.
I just don't think the Saints have enough offense to beat Morro Bay. But if that Santa Maria defense really puts the clamps on Morro Bay, the Saints can win this thing.
The Pick: Morro Bay 35, Santa Maria 20.
No. 1 Bishop Diego (6-1, 1-0 Camino League) at Moorpark (1-7, 0-1)
The Cardinals can already look ahead to the Camarillo game because they shouldn't have trouble with Moorpark this week.
The Pick: Bishop Diego 49, Moorpark 0.
No. 2 Mission Prep (7-0, 2-0 Ocean League) vs. Templeton (4-4, 1-2)
The Royals shouldn't have much trouble with Templeton, but the Eagles aren't a pushover either.
Mission Prep has out-scored its opposition 293-57 this year. Junior quarterback Colby White has taken the next step, throwing 14 touchdowns against just five interceptions this season.
Senior leader Jack Susank powers the rushing attack, with 885 yards on only 73 carries with nine touchdowns. Sophomore Drew Harrigan has also been solid, adding 363 yards rushing and four scores.
Junior Tyler Garrett has been huge in the passing game, averaging over 20 yards a catch and eight touchdowns. He has 21 catches for 424 yards on the season. Junior Mario Luera leads the team with 44 total tackles.
The Pick: Mission Prep 40, Templeton 20.
No. 3 Santa Barbara (6-2, 2-1 Channel League) at Dos Pueblos (2-6, 0-3)
The Dons have been the second-best team in Santa Barbara County this year and shouldn't have any problem taking care of Dos Pueblos.
Sophomore QB Abel Renteria is dynamic with his arm and legs and he's got an abundance of weapons at his disposal, including receiver Trent Williams.
The Pick: Santa Barbara 30, Dos Pueblos 10.
No. 10 San Luis Obispo (5-2, 3-0 Ocean) at Atascadero (2-6, 1-2)
The Tigers should roll past the 'Hounds to set up the big Ocean League showdown next week.
The Pick: San Luis Obispo 39, Atascadero 12.
San Marcos (3-5, 1-2 Pacific View) vs. Cabrillo (0-8, 0-3)
Tons of credit to the Cabrillo players and coaches grinding through this season to see it through. It can be easy carrying the school's long losing streak and knowing you're not going to win a game each week, but the Conqs have gutted it out. Any win would be a historic achievement. Can the Conqs beat San Marcos? I don't think so, but if they play a perfect game maybe they'll keep it close.
The Pick: San Marcos 23, Cabrillo 6.
Last week's record: 9-1.
Season record: 73-26
VOTE: Scott, McClurg, Puga, Kopcho, Bagby among those up for Player of the Week
Aidan Scott, Santa Ynez DEUpdated
After losing a heartbreaker at Buena on Oct. 8, Santa Ynez rebounded with a dominant 23-7 win over Ventura last week. The Pirate defense was lights out and two players particularly stood out. Aidan Scott had 12 total tackles, two tackles-for-loss and two sacks for the Pirate defense.
Aidan Scott, Santa Ynez DE: 12 total tackles, 2 TFLs, 2 sacks, 2 hurries, fumble recovery in 23-7 win over Ventura.
Canyon McClurg, Santa Ynez WR/DBUpdated
Canyon McClurg locked down Ventura's top receiver, Tyler Woodworth, finishing the night with six tackles and four pass break-ups in the win. Woodworth finished the game with three catches for 39 yards, his lowest totals of the season. Woodworth was averaging 92 yards receiving coming into the game.
Canyon McClurg, Santa Ynez WR/DB: 6 tackles, 4 PBUs, lock down defense on top Pacific view League WR in 23-7 win over Ventura.
Makai Puga, Arroyo Grande RB/DBUpdated
Makai Puga has been dynamic for Arroyo Grande all season and he had one of his best games of the year last Friday. The senior had 92 yards on the ground with two touchdowns, 78 more yards receiving with another score and also made 11 tackles while intercepting a pass to power the Eagles' 39-35 come-from-behind win over Righetti.
Makai Puga, Arroyo Grande RB/DB: 13 carries, 92 yards, 2 TDs; 9 catches, 78 yards, TD; 11 tackles, INT; 4 punts, 107 yards; 3 kick returns for 114 yards in 39-35 win over Righetti.
Koa Kopcho, Arroyo Grande WR/DBUpdated
Koa Kopcho also stood out in the win. He caught a 20-yard pass that set up a short touchdown run for the game-winning score. He led the Eagles with 13 tackles and finished with two catches for 33 yards.
Koa Kopcho, Arroyo Grande WR/DB: 2 catches, 33 yards; 13 tackles in 39-35 win over Righetti.
Cooper Bagby, Righetti WR/DBUpdated
Cooper Bagby had a gritty performance for Righetti in the loss to the Eagles. Bagby was a physical presence in the middle of the Warrior defense at strong safety. He intercepted a pass and laid down several hard hits to break up passes. He finished with six total tackles.
Cooper Bagby, Righetti WR/DB: 2 catches, 12 yards; 6 total tackles, 3 pass break-ups, INT.
Adan Rubalcava, Pioneer Valley WR/RB/DBUpdated
Adan Rubalcava had another one of his trademark performances, leading Pioneer Valley in just about every offensive category in a tough 15-6 loss at Paso Robles. He had 160 yards from scrimmage and also made 15 total tackles.
Adan Rubalcava, Pioneer Valley WR/RB/DB: 125 yards rushing, 35 yards receiving, 15 total tackles.
Cavin Ross, Lompoc QBUpdated
Lompoc's offense has been trying to make up for its short-handed defense all season long and junior QB Cavin Ross has been doing his part. He topped 240 yards in the 51-26 loss at Oxnard Pacifica. The Braves will need another big game Friday as they try to stop their five-game skid against a tough Oxnard team.
Cavin Ross, Lompoc QB: 23 for 36, 242 yards, 2 TDs passing in 51-26 loss at Oxnard Pacifica.
Kyle Miller, Orcutt Academy RBUpdated
Over in the 8-man realm, Orcutt Academy's Kyle Miller has had a strong senior season and it continued Saturday in a loss to Riverdale Christian on Saturday. Miller had 141 yards rushing and two touchdowns and made nine tackles on defense.
Kyle Miller, Orcutt Academy RB: 15 carries, 141 yards, 2 TDs; 1 catch, 24 yards; 9 total tackles in 54-26 loss to Riverdale Christian.